The image of a 4-year-old Syrian refugee seemingly alone as he crossed the border into Jordan tore at the heartstrings. The photo showed Marwan, clutching a plastic bag with the desolate desert behind him, being greeted by U.N. officials.

The picture struck a chord and quickly went viral, with a tweet from CNN anchor Hala Gorani shared over 8,000 times.


Andrew Harper, the U.N. relief agency's representative in Jordan, had initially posted the picture saying Marwan had been "temporarily separated" from his family. He later clarified that Marwan had been reunited with them soon after he shared this picture, showing the boy at the back of a group of refugees.


With thousands fleeing the Syrian conflict every day, it is not unusual for parents to momentarily lose sight of their children in the chaos of border crossings, Harper explained.

The fact that the boy was never alone doesn't make Marwan's story, or the stories of the more than 1 million other children who have been forced to flee their home country, any less heartbreaking. Hundreds of children are forced to make the perilous journey out of Syria without a parent or an accompanying adult, with more than 1,000 in Jordan alone, according to Unicef. The lack of a timely viral photograph does not change that.

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